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There are a great many good People among us, who are afflicted with that which we call Religious Melancholy. It is for the fake of thefe, that I have now pitched upon this Text, as thinking it may be very fitly applied to their Cafe, tho' their Troubles are of a different Nature from thofe that Da-. vid was here exercised with, and arife from different Causes. And that which I propose to do, is to confider the several Things that are most apt to disturb them, and to render their Lives miferable and uncomfortable, and to give fuch an Account of thofe Things, as that they may be fatisfied, that they have all the Reason in the World, notwithstanding. them, to apply David's Words in my Text to their own Cafe, and to fay with him, Why art thou fo caft down, O my Soul? why art thou fo difquieted within me? Put thy Trust in God, for I shall yet give him Thanks for the Help of his Countenance; or, as he otherwise expreffeth it in the last Verse of this Pfalm: For I will yet thank him, which is the Help. of my Countenance, and my God.
This, I fay, is what I defign upon this Text; but before I engage in that Work, it will not be amifs, if we a little infift on thefe Words. with reference to the particular Occafion upon which they were fpoken; and this shall my bufinefs at this Time.
Now the Text thus confidered, doth afford us two practical Obfervations. First; From hence we gather, that to a good Man, the
being deprived of Opportunities of worshipping God in Publick, is one of the greatest Afflictions. Secondly; That in this and all other Afflictions that befal us, the proper Remedy is to put our Trust in God.
I. I begin with the First, That to be deprived of the Opportunity of God's publick Worship, is to a good Man a moft grievous Affliction.
We fee how fadly David here bemoans himself upon that Account, with what Anguish he remembers those happy Days, when he had free Accefs to the Houfe of God, and the holy Affemblies of his People; and how paffionately he longs for thofe Days again. He takes no Notice of the unnatural Rebellion of his Son Abfalom, which could not but go to the very Heart of fo tender a Father as he was: He takes no Notice of the Danger his Life was in from the Confpirators; but all that he seems concerned about, is that by these Means he is banished from God's Prefence; that is, from his Sanctuary, from his House, from the Society of the Faithful, where he used to praise the Name of his God, and to partake of his divine Influence.
Indeed the Happiness and the Bleffings that good Men enjoy in the publick Exercise of their Religion, and in the worshipping God in his Houfe, and partaking of his Sacraments, are fo many and great, that they must needs account the being deprived of them a B 3
Lofs unfupportable. Of all the Pleafures on this fide Heaven, thofe are the most valuable: For indeed, they approach nearest to those in which the Saints do spend their Days in their heavenly Manfions. What can be more like Heaven upon Earth, than a Company of pious devout Souls met in one Place, having God in the midst of them, and there partaking of his Communications, devoting themselves to his Service, profeffing their Faith and Hope in Chrift, and their Dependence upon him, and joining Hearts and Voices with the heavenly Hofts of Angels, in finging out the everlasting Praises of their Creator and Redeemer; in declaring his wonderful Works of Love and Mercy, and in adoring his infinite Wisdom, and Power, and Goodness, which are confpicuous to all the World?
O how muft a devout Soul be ravished with thefe Exercifes! O how dry and' infipid will the higheft of fenfual Gratifications appear to him, in Comparison of the delicious Relish that thefe divine Employments will leave upon his Spirit! He that once taftes the Sweets of thefe, cannot forbear crying out with David in the 84th Pfalm, O how amiable are thy Dwellings, thou Lord of Hofts! My Soul longeth, yea even fainteth for the Courts of the Lord: My Heart and my Flefh crieth out for the living God. He will even envy the Sparrow, that hath found her an Houfe, and the Swallow, that hath built her
a Neft, wherein to lay her Young fo near un to the Altar of the Lord, his King, and his God: He will fay unto God in the Words of the fame Divine Pfalmift, Bleed are they that dwell in thy House, they will be still praifing thee; for one Day in thy Courts is better than a Thousand: Nay, I had rather be a Door-keeper in the House of my God, than to dwell in the Tents of Ungodliness. This muft needs be the Senfe of every one that truly loves God, and therefore it may eafily be imagined, how near it will go to the Heart of fuch a one, to have these fo ineftimable Privileges taken from him.
When the Ark of God (which was in thofe Days the Symbol of his Prefence among his People, and from whence he used to manifeft himself to them) was taken by the Philiftines, the Lofs of it was fuch a Blow to the good old Eli, that the very News of it killed him: He patiently bore the Relation of the Death of his two Sons; but when the Meffenger came to mention to him the Ark's being carried away, the Text tells us, He fell off from his Seat backwards, and died, I Sam. iv. 18.
These Things being fo, how ought every one of us to prize and value that free Liberty which we of this Nation, thro' the Favour of God, enjoy, of reforting to the Houfe of the Lord, and partaking of the Means of Salvation! Ohow thankful ought we to be for this unfpeakable Mercy! How fervently ought
O let us not by our Unthankfulness to God for the Light of his Gofpel, and our Neglect of, or Unprofitablenefs under, thofe Means which he graciously dispenseth to us, render ourselves unworthy of them, and give him Occafion to remove our Candleftick from us! Let us remember, that the Primitive Chriftians would have bought the Privileges we now enjoy at any Rate in the World, but could not obtain them. Many Prophets and righteous Men, as our Saviour faid in another Cafe, defired to see the Things that we fee, and could not fee them. But if we make light of them, a Time may come, when they may be hid from our Eyes alfo; a Time may come, when the Kingdom of God fhall be taken from us, and given to a Nation that will bring forth the Fruit of it, as our Saviour speaks, Matth. xxi. 43.:
Secondly, From hence we may fee how much two Sorts of Perfons among us are to be reproved.
Firft, Thofe who tho' they do indeed frequent God's Houfe, and his publick Worship, yet